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What Does Open Government and Partnership Mean to the Hungarian Government?

What Does Open Government and Partnership Mean to the Hungarian Government?

Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude welcomed new countries to the Open Government Partnership (OGP) at a meeting of the global initiative in London.

What is OGP?

OGP is a new multilateral initiative that aims to secure concrete commitments from governments to promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption, and harness new technologies to strengthen governance. In the spirit of multi-stakeholder collaboration, OGP is overseen by a steering committee of governments and civil society organizations.

To become a member of OGP, participating countries must embrace a high-level Open Government Declaration; deliver a country action plan developed with public consultation; and commit to independent reporting on their progress going forward.

What happened last week?

Steering Committee of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) held a meeting in London from 23rd to 24th April where Transparency International Hungary (TI) took place.

The meeting was opened by a formal plenary session where new countries were asked to briefly present their action plans.  Government representatives of each country spent five minutes discussing the highlights of their action plans.  Following the presentations the Steering Committee of the OGP turned to the civil society participants to begin the question and answer session focusing on their action plans.

The second session, the so-called ‘clinic’ paired new countries with members of the OGP Steering Committee who offered feedback on challenges of implementation of an OGP action plan.  In the second session, TI was assigned to the same group as the representatives of the Hungarian government.

What is in the Hungarian action plan?

The final action plan is a mere repetition of the government’s anti-corruption program. Commitments of Hungary are the improvement of the publicity of fiscal data, the searchability of public procurement data, the publicity of contracts concluded for the utilization of public property and with the use of public funds and the introduction of integrity control system in the public sector as well as the dissemination of information on anti-corruption and integrity.

What TI says?

Although Hungary’s decision to join the OGP is considered a step taken forward, the actual commitments do not guarantee a more open and transparent government.
Moreover, the integration of the OGP action plan into the Government Decision on anti-corruption makes commitments confusing as commitments of that Decision have not been fulfilled although the deadlines are passed.

The civil society had considerably more suggestions but was not informed why most of its suggestions aren’t included in the action plan.

Civil representatives emphasize that the government gives something with one hand and takes away with the other hand. For example the Civil Code in force states that governmental and municipal budget information, data on the use of funds from the European Commission information and on the management of governmental and municipal assets shall not be declared a business secret.

This regulation is excluded from the new Civil Code. It is essential to include in the new Civil Code or in any other act that the use of public funds cannot be interpreted as business secrecy.

However, the Steering Committee adopted the Hungarian Action Plan so TI will monitor the implementation of it.

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